Special Group grabs Red Bull by horns

New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Red Bull isn’t the number one energy drink, with Frucor’s V taking that honour. But it’s aiming to rectify that—and make more of its burgeoning content business—by appointing Special Group as its creative agency.  

“After conducting meet and greets with a wide variety of Auckland agencies, we narrowed our selection down to three,” says Red Bull brand specialist Sophie Ericksen, who took up the role in December last year after a stint in Australia where she worked for Puma and a range of media agencies. “While we were impressed with the calibre of work overall, the decision to move forward with Special was clear. Their response to the brief, professionalism, strategic planning process and creative output was truly outstanding, and we are delighted to be working alongside them as an agency partner.”

Managing partner Michael Redwood wouldn’t comment on the other agencies involved in the pitch, but it’s thought Y&R and Sugar & Partners (an appropriate name for a Red Bull partner, you would think) were involved. 

Red Bull already works with media and PR agency Lassoo, which works with Special Group on Ecoya and Trilogy. But Redwood says it hasn’t had a creative agency in the New Zealand market “in recent memory”, preferring instead to use material from its international network. 

Redwood says it’s a great win and a a great fit. 

“As an agency we’ve got an track record of developing experiential and content ideas. And Red Bull is a brilliant content and events company with a lot of resources to bring those ideas to life really professionally.”

While selling the drink is still the central focus of the business, Red Bull is also focusing heavily on content marketing and is increasingly expanding into media (the Red Bulletin magazine is thought to be moving from free distribution with APN to a subscription model, with ads also being sold, and it also runs redbull.tv).

He couldn’t talk about what the account was worth, and while he says the agency is “100 percent focused on helping them succeed in New Zealand”, it’s one of those accounts agencies love because it leaves the door open for international work if they can impress the global masters. 

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